Smith: Now Let’s Put a Run Together
Thursday, 8th Sep 2016 06:00
Town centre-half Tommy Smith says the Blues need to build on the 1-0 home win against Preston and other recent improved performances by putting a good run together, starting with Friday night’s live Sky game at Reading (Sky Sports One/Sky Sports Mix from 7.30pm, kick-off 8pm).
Reflecting on the season so far with the Blues in 11th place in the Championship having won two, drawn two and lost one of their five matches, Smith said: “We had a couple of tricky spells but the last few matches have been massive improvements.
“Wolves away and Norwich at home we had two bad decisions go against us, which would have meant four more points on the board than we have got.
“But we got the three points against Preston, so we’re hopefully looking forward to putting a good run together, starting with Reading on Friday.”
The 26-year-old, a regular throughout Mick McCarthy’s almost four years as boss, found himself on the subs’ bench for the opening four Championship fixtures with summer signing Adam Webster lining up alongside Christophe Berra at the heart of the defence.
“I was definitely disappointed,” Smith admitted. “I think if you talk to any professional player they’ll be disappointed if they aren’t playing first-team football.
“But it’s all about your attitude. The manager’s there to make those decisions, he’s got a big squad, he’s got options to choose from, so you have to bide your time, make sure you’re training well so the manager can’t use that as an excuse, make sure you’re knocking on the door for any opportunity which might come your way.”
And his opportunity came when he returned to the team for the Preston match, manager McCarthy feeling that the academy product would cope better with Lilywhites frontman Jermaine Beckford.
“It came out of the blue, I wasn’t really expecting it,” added Smith, speaking at the opening of the new 3G pitch at Playford Road on Tuesday.
“I came into training on the Friday morning and the gaffer pulled me aside and told me I’d be playing.
“I’ve always been ready to go, whatever the situation. I remember when I was very young I wasn’t due to start a game, but Darren O’Dea got injured in the warm-up and I was thrust in.
“You always have to prepare as if you’re going to play and I’ve always been brought up to be that way, probably from my coaching here [at the academy], they’ve always instilled that into me. I’ll always be ready to play, if and when required.”
He says these days players can’t just expect to keep their places in the starting line-up: “Competition is healthy for the club. It means we’re all pushing each other, all trying to do better than the other person in training, which can only improve us all as players and then collectively as a team.
“It’s great to have that competition, it’s down to the ones that have got the shirt to keep it.”
Prior to the start of the season Smith put pen to paper on a new contract and he says extending his stay was never in question.
“I’m here for another three years with an option for another season. I’m settled in the area, I’m getting married in the summer,” he said.
“I didn’t really want to uproot, so I'm happy to stay and contribute to the cause on the pitch.”
Smith was left out of the New Zealand travelling party for the Oceania Nations Cup in the summer with boss Anthony Hudson saying he wouldn’t be selecting the 29-times-capped defender, who appeared at the 2010 World Cup and at the 2012 Olympics, for any of his future squads.
However, Smith, who qualifies for the All Whites as he was brought up in New Zealand between the ages of eight and 16, says he’s set to hold talks with Hudson, the son of former England midfielder Alan, later this week.
“I’m due to speak to the New Zealand manager in the coming days just about the future and how he sees me in his plans and what he wants from me commitment-wise and we’ll go from there,” he added.
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